5 Steps Toward Lasting Change

I’ll admit “New Year, New You” has never inspired me. Despite the hopefulness of this expression, the turn of the calendar year has yet to seem relevant to my motivation to make internal changes. It’s usually life events that inspire or motivate me to make changes.

That being said, the New Year does present us with an opportunity. It can be a chance to let go. It can bring new hope. It can also be met with fear, loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Many encounter seasonal depression due to the weather and the solitude, or isolation of winter. For others, including myself and likely other introverts, the solitude and stillness (a.k.a. dead of winter) can feel peaceful and oddly refreshing. At the very least, it’s an essential part of the growth cycle. None of these experiences are right or wrong or a reflection of your character or competence. Take a moment to notice and reflect, with acceptance, how you met the new year.

Whatever your own experience may be, the New Year can be an invitation to believe in new beginnings, consciously release an unhelpful pattern, and embrace a new way forward. Resolutions can restore a commitment to yourself to do what serves your highest good. 

May I offer to you, whether you believe it or not, that you can have more joy, more peace, more love, or simply, more emotional freedom? I’ve learned through personal experience as well as being a witness to others, how to feel more joy through intentional living, therapy, spirituality, meditation, and mindfulness practices. It doesn’t come from one thing, but rather a holistic and integrative approach to wellness.

If you are ready to begin or advance your journey, I recommend the following steps:

Step 1: Go easy on yourself.

The pathway to peace and wholeness is unleashed when we can develop one essential skill and that is to be able to hold on to two things: 1) I am exactly as I need to be at this moment. 2) I can grow and develop qualities that can serve myself and the greater good. 

While they may seem paradoxical, once you can learn to hold both of these ideas in balance, you will feel a lightness I can’t quite describe in words.

Step 2: Choose just one quality or belief you wish to grow.

When we make big plans to tackle too many things at once we are likely to quit before any of them take effect. This creates a roller coaster effect. However, if we choose one thing, take small steps daily towards it, and let the change sink in, we will find our nervous system, mind, and body better able to retain that change over time. It can be like watching a tree grow, but often slower is faster. Examples include letting go of control, allowing differences to be opportunities for growth, finding success in failure, or growing in compassion or forgiveness. 

The Heartswell personal resolves (learn more here and here) may also inspire you in finding something meaningful to you. If you aren’t sure, trust that what you need to focus on will come to you as you slow yourself down, direct your attention inward, and listen. 

Step 3: Find a confidante.

We are unlikely to make lasting change if we do not engage with other people. Our mind is honestly quite lazy on its own and will easily revert to what’s easiest, or what’s familiar. Identify someone you can talk to along the way. They can help you create a space to share, to be accountable, to be honest, to celebrate wins, and get encouragement when needed. This person must be non-judgmental and unbiased. They should not be personally (or selfishly) invested in your change. Their role will not be to give advice or solutions. If it’s a friend or family member, they must understand their accepting presence is essential. 

If you really want to dig deep, therapists are trained to help you dive into your experience and find your own authentic answers. Friends and family typically aren’t trained, and even if they are, often are not well positioned to support you in this deeper way. 

Step 4: Do the deeper work.

In order to change you’ll need to understand the root causes of your thoughts and behavior. You’ll need access to the unconscious parts of you that slip into patterns and act without your conscious awareness. Books and friends can help. Talking to a therapist gets even deeper. It’s important to be willing to look at yourself compassionately and honestly. The willingness to listen to others and their observations and experiences with you, though scary in some ways, can be enlightening.

Another part of the deeper work is developing a “felt sense.” This refers to an internal bodily awareness that results from increased self-awareness, often developed through psychotherapy.  This term was coined by Eugene Gendlin in the 50s and 60s through his research with Carl Rogers. Their research indicated that when we have the capability to move beyond a merely verbal or conceptual understanding of our struggles and connect to a more bodily sense of what’s happening, we make more effective change.

Step 5: Choose a practice and practice with people. 

The approach to change I am speaking of here is intended to affect lasting change to the nervous system and neural networks. It will show up to you and others in your thoughts, emotions, and behavior. In order to allow these to change, we need to put the nervous system and neural networks in a state where they are malleable. Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga are useful tools that put us at ease and bring us to the present. They invite openness, clarity, and peace. They’ll help you expand your “felt sense.” 

When you choose a practice and create a regular time to do it, this becomes the time you revisit your intention. You can recognize if you’ve forgotten where you are headed (which you will), and begin again.

There are many resources available to you to learn and practice. As with anything, finding a group or teacher will increase the effectiveness of these practices exponentially. This could be a dedicated mindfulness or meditation group or even a yoga class. 

We’re here for you in more ways than one!

We want change to be effective for you. Heartswell offers services beyond psychotherapy to help you with the whole person (mind, body, soul) healing and growth. Choose the path that is right for you now:

  • 8-Week Mindfulness Virtual Series | Begins January 20.
  • 1:1 Meditation and Mindfulness Coaching | Learn more here.
  • Psychotherapy | Learn more here.
  • Restore & Explore Farm Retreat | April 29 – May 1. Learn more here.  
  • YouTube | Meditations and useful playlists
  • IGTV Yoga Nidra Recordings | January 12, November 23, October 6.

REACH OUT TODAY!

Allow 2022 to be the year that you choose peace and clarity. You can set the tone to nourish your complete self. Let this year be the year that you accept and allow yourself to be who you are and be free from expectations, stress, and pressure. 

If you are interested in learning more about therapy, mindfulness, or meditation, please get in touch. You can schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation on our contact page to learn which of Heartswell’s offerings is best suited to support you.

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